Santiago Calatrava - Architectural Engineer in the USA or Not?

I have something burning on my mind:

Is Santiago Calatrava a PE for Architectural Engineering or not?

His biography mostly states structural engineering license.

CU Info


Thanks for your help,


Dec 14, 20 6:16 pm

In the US, you need to be a PE, the sub-discipline is irrelevant. Please use your favorite web search in the future, as this is well documented.

Dec 14, 20 6:19 pm  · 

thank you Sneaky Pete, but it did not answer my question.

Dec 14, 20 6:21 pm  · 

"a PE for Architectural Engineering" meaning what? A PE is a license. Architectural Engineering is a degree or a sub-genre of engineering. What are you looking to know?

Dec 14, 20 6:24 pm  · 
t a z

There are a handfuls of states (usually in seismic regions) where an SE is required to practice structural engineering but usually a PE will suffice (an SE license requires additional testing beyond a PE). 

It looks like, at one time, Calatrava was a licensed SE and PE in a few states.  He lists license numbers so it's not hard to look-up.  A "temporary license" would be project specific qualification.

  • 2001 Temporary License for the Practice of Professional Engineering MADISON, UNITED STATES by the State of Wisconsin, Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Land Surveyors, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 1999 License for the Practice of Professional Engineering AUSTIN, UNITED STATES by the State of Texas, Board of Professional Engineers, Austin, Texas, USA; License No. 85263
  • 1997 Temporary License for the Practice of Professional Engineering CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES by the State of California, Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, USA; Renewed in 1998
  • 1997 Structural Engineer License ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES State of Illinois Department of Professional Engineering, USA; License No. 081-005441, November 1997, renewed in 1998 and 2000

Dec 14, 20 6:42 pm  · 
2  · 
t a z

So, re-reading the question, I'm not sure I understand the question... but two points:

1. I don't think the "Architectural Engineering" PE Exam existed in 1997 so I would assume Calatrava never took it.

2. I don't know what states boards recognize that exam.  Maybe these days many do. 

Dec 14, 20 6:57 pm  · 
1  · 
t a z

The wonders of the internet never cease, but clearly a child traced the map in the ASCE link:



Dec 14, 20 7:12 pm  · 

Okay, an architectural engineer told me that Calatrava is not an architectural engineer as it is defined in the USA.

The architectural engineer who stated that Calatrava is not an architectural engineer stated (J.G. 12/14/2020 5:19 PM):

'Santiago Calatrava is not (what we call here in US) an "Architectural Engineer".  He is a PHD Structural engineer with great artistic and architectural skills.  In other words, Calatrava is not designing the complex electrical or mechanical systems of his awesome buildings."

and I wanted to make sure that this is the understanding on the architectural side (architecture forum).

I did exactly go this way and researched the info, PE license and bio etc., but I was still not sure, because back in my head somewhere I remembered, when reading about architectural engineering, that Calatrava is a great example for this.

It is in general confusing that for example there is architectural engineering, architecture and engineering but no engineering architecture (I would place this under architecture)... 

Dec 14, 20 8:50 pm  · 

I've never hired an Architectural Engineer for Electrical or Mechanical. I have hired MEP firms which were composed of PEs.

Dec 14, 20 9:07 pm  · 
t a z

Did you read the Wikipedia definition I posted for Architectural Engineering? It is specific for the US.

"Note that in the United States Architects are not to be confused with "architectural engineering technology" which is different from architectural engineering;[3] in the United States architectural engineering technologists tend to be "Engineering Technicians" that utilize CAD technology as drafters or technical assistants who do not have a license to practice either Architecture or Engineering, usually hired by larger construction firms or developers who prefer to cut out architectural design and maintain high costs of construction for standard processes and common building materials, while in Europe, Canada, South Africa and other countries Architectural technologists have a role similar to Architects and Architectural Engineers."

Dec 14, 20 10:15 pm  · 

There's SOOOOO much wrong in that statement. Almost everything, in my experience. Look - there's not really such a thing as architectural engineering in North America. That's probably why you're having trouble finding the info you want.

Dec 14, 20 10:40 pm  · 
3  ·  1

^ this is the correct answer.

Dec 15, 20 10:15 am  · 
2  ·  1

again architectural engineering exists in the USA

and this discussion is about it

Dec 16, 20 8:11 pm  · 

- of course not!:

Note that in the United States Architects are not to be confused with "architectural engineering technology" which is different from
architectural engineering

I believe that AE in the USA is different from the definition AE outside the USA and the definition is mostly set by the state in the USA

for definition purposes, yes Wikipedia has great definitions, but not for this one

I would rather look it up at ASCE or the engineering boards

to continue, it is overlapping with other disciplines a lot where it becomes confusing

I think that to avoid legal consequences, the contract should always be the document containing a clear definition

- back to the states:

yes, the states do offer the architectural engineering exam, but I still could not find out whenever Santiago Calatrava qualifies as an architectural engineer or could call himself architectural engineer, besides structural, PE Professional Engineer and architect

and I conclude that one could not say he is an architectural engineer in the USA, one could better say that he is an architectural engineer in a specific state, if that is the case

(...I might just be stuck in a loop...)

Dec 15, 20 10:03 am  · 

You are, in a loop, loop, loop....

Dec 15, 20 10:16 am  · 
2  ·  1

why does it matter? he is an engineer who leads the creative design of dramatic structures and architectural spaces. obviously he isn't doing the mep design regardless what term is used for that specialty. i'd be very surprised if he isn't working with locally licensed engineers and architects on every project he designs.

Dec 15, 20 7:28 pm  · 
1  · 

and since he isn't american and didn't study or train in the US it doesn't make much sense to struggle to classify him within the US licensing system. He may or may not have a reciprocal license - certainly he was already famous for his european work before he designed anything here.

Dec 15, 20 7:33 pm  · 

fwiw i'm an american working on large commercial projects in america and asia and i've never worked with anyone who described themselves as an "architectural engineer." i don't really know what it means. we have structural engineers, mep engineers, civil engineers, construction engineers, and specialist engineers (fire safety, curtain walls, building envelopes, security systems, traffic engineers...) but never some generalist architectural engineer.

Dec 15, 20 7:38 pm  · 
1  · 

I have no idea what it means either, but they called me one in Abu Dhabi. I think they had to do that to get me a work permit there.

Dec 15, 20 7:44 pm  · 

Great, some took their time to say they don't care...well then.

Also for some people who don't know, a license does not depend on citizenship.

I am still looking for an example of an architectural engineer somehow famous working in the USA. The Calatrava discussion seems exhausted already... ufff.

Dec 16, 20 8:05 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

never heard of architectural engineer, ever. Sounds like a silly mash-up trying to make regular engineer sound sexy, but misses entirely on the sexy factor we architects bring to the table. This is likely because the term was created by engineers in the first place.

Dec 16, 20 9:26 pm  · 

We already covered this in another thread. There's no such thing in North America. End of discussion.

Dec 16, 20 11:00 pm  · 

Famous Architectural Engineers 

  • Julia Morgan – designed 700 buildings throughout her career, including dozens of YWCA buildings and Hearst Castle
  • Ellen Biddle Shipman – called the Dean of American Landscape Architecture; best known for her formal gardens like the Henry W. Longfellow Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – the great mind behind the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the church of Notre Dame Des Champs
  • Richard Buckminster Fuller – invented the geodesic dome, a light and sturdy 3D structure made of self-bracing triangles
  • Robert Mills – responsible for the way Washington, D.C. looks today, including: the Washington Monument, the Treasury, the Patent Office, and the General Post Office
  • Peter Rice – global projects including: the Lloyds of London Building, le Centre Pompidou, and the Sydney Opera House


Study AE

Study AE

Study AE


Famous AEs on Google Search

Dec 17, 20 11:57 am  · 

pompidou is piano/rogers, any kindergarden kid knows it.

Dec 17, 20 12:07 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

pretty sure the term was attached posthumously to Fuller and Eiffel in an attempt to give this port-manteau term some legitimacy. Don't think I've heard of the other ones, but you just copy-pasted that list from another site so I doubt you do either. 

Anyways, this term has no professional/legal standing in my area. Only college level and some bachelor of science degrees are available for this... and in the end, you're just a draftsperson with no path to licensure unless you take a M.arch and write your exams...

Dec 17, 20 12:20 pm  · 
atelier nobody

Julia Morgan got her undergrad degree in Civil Engineering, then studied at l'École des Beaux-Arts and became the first woman to be licensed as an Architect in the State of California. AFAIK, she never practiced engineering, although her undergrad training in engineering did influence her architecture to some extent. (She is a personal favorite, and a major figure in a seminar I give from time to time.)

Buckminster Fuller was a college dropout who never held any degree or licensure/registration in architecture or any engineering discipline.

Mar 2, 21 4:03 pm  · 


AE exists in the USA, but there is so much wrong stuff on the internet about it... see above... I also did not ask about an AE anywhere, I was asking about an AE in the US, where it exists and every time I put it in Santiago Calatrava comes out...

no wonder.

Dec 17, 20 12:19 pm  · 

He is a licensed architect in NY state.

Feb 26, 21 3:45 pm  · 
t a z

Except he just let the license lapse - current status NOT REGISTERED. Maybe he had trouble getting his NY CEUs...

Mar 1, 21 5:15 pm  · 

The license doesn't lapse only the registration. License is permanent, registration expires.

Mar 1, 21 6:48 pm  · 
t a z

Yes, technically speaking I misspoke.

Mar 2, 21 3:20 pm  · 

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